What are the cataract symptoms? | Plano Eye Health

What are the cataract symptoms?

What is a cataract?

A cataract happens when the typically clear lens of your eye becomes cloudy. Clouded vision due to cataracts can make everyday activities like driving a car (particularly at night) and reading tough. While most cataracts develop slowly and do not majorly impact your vision in the initial stages, they would ultimately progress and interfere with your vision. In this article, we explore what is cataract and also what are the various cataract symptoms.

In the initial stages of cataract, more intense lighting and prescription glasses can address the condition. Subsequently you may need cataract surgery as your affected vision may limit the number of activities you can do. Cataract surgery is typically safe and effective.

cataract symptoms

How a cataract develops

First and foremost, let us explore what the lens of your eyes does. Located behind the coloured part of your eye (iris), the lens concentrates light that enters your eye, to form distinct and sharp images on the retina(the light-sensitive membrane in the eye). As you grow older, the lens in your eyes becomes more rigid, thicker and less transparent. Proteins and fibers within the lens break down and accumulate together, causing clouding of the lens..

The clouding becomes denser as the cataract progresses. Your vision blurs when the cataract disperses and blocks the light as it passes through the lens. Therefore, a sharply defined image cannot be produced on your retina. Although cataracts can usually happen in both eyes, they do not develop at the same rate. A difference in vision can happen when the cataract in one eye is more developed than the other.

Causes of a cataract

Ageing or injury alters the tissue that constitutes your eye’s lens. Proteins and fibers in the lens begin to break down and gather together, leading to hazy vision.

Genetic disorders that result in other health problems can raise the odds of cataracts. Other eye conditions, past eye surgery or medical conditions such as diabetes, can also lead to cataracts. Steroid medications in the long term can give rise to cataracts.

Risk factors

Elements that raise your risk of a cataract include:

  • Ageing
  • Diabetes
  • Excessive sunlight exposure
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Prior eye injury
  • Prior eye surgery
  • Long-term use of steroid medications
  • Excessive drinking of alcohol

cataract symptoms

What are the cataract symptoms?

Signs of cataracts include:

  • Hazy or dim vision
  • Challenges with night vision
  • Light and glare sensitivity
  • Stronger light for reading and other activities required
  • “Halos” around lights
  • Regular changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription
  • Colours that appear to be yellowing
  • Double vision in one eye

Initially, the cloudiness in your vision caused by a cataract may impair only a negligible fraction of your eye’s lens and you may not detect any vision loss. As the cataract develops, it clouds more of your lens and scatters the light passing through it. You may then be able to detect vision issues.

How can you slow cataract progression?

  • Regular eye examinations. Regular eye examinations can help detect cataracts and other eye problems at the initial stages. Reduce or stop smoking.
  • Management of other health conditions. Manage diabetes or other medical conditions that can increase your vulnerability to cataracts.
  • A healthy diet. A healthy diet with colorful fruits and vegetables with antioxidants can help you get many vitamins and nutrients to maintain eye health. A healthy vitamin-filled diet can lower the risk of developing cataracts.
  • Wear sunglasses. Ultraviolet light may lead to the development of cataracts. When outdoors, wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption. Too much alcohol can raise the risk of cataracts.

References

Mayo Clinic. 2022. Cataracts – Symptoms and causes. [online] Available at: <https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cataracts/symptoms-causes/syc-20353790> [Accessed 28 February 2022].

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